Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Expense could threaten petition for Pen Bonnar's return: organiser

Expense could threaten petition for Pen Bonnar's return: organiser

Expense could threaten petition for Pen Bonnar's return: organiser

ETHNIC minority villagers in Ratanakkiri province said Tuesday that a petition campaign seeking the reinstatement of a former provincial human rights advocate faces a shortage of finances and may have to be cancelled.

Chuk Savath, 50, from O'Chum district, said he began the campaign last week to appeal to provincial Governor Pav Horm Phan for the return of Pen Bonnar, a provincial coordinator for the rights group Licadho, who was reassigned to Phnom Penh on August 6.

Pen Bonnar had represented ethnic minority villagers for nearly a decade until provincial judge Thor Saron suggested earlier this month that he leave the province or face prosecution on charges of defamation, incitement and terrorism.

Pen Bonnar has denied wrongdoing and says no charges have yet been filed.

Chuk Savath said he has collected thumbprints from about 100 villagers in O'Chum district, but plans to visit three others - O'Yadav, Borkeo and Lumphat - were in jeopardy because he could not afford to continue much longer.

"I am worried that my money has almost run out," he said, adding that appeals to other supporters of the ousted rights coordinator have refused to help the campaign for fear of being arrested.

Chuk Savath acknowledged that he had doubts that the campaign would do any good, but that he was committed to honouring Pen Bonnar's work on behalf of the province's ethnic minority communities by seeking his return.

Pav Horm Phan could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, but Morn Saroeun, deputy provincial governor, told the Post that villagers had every right to conduct the campaign.

"People are free to petition the governor. I believe he will consider the petition when he receives it, but I can't say which way he will decide," Morn Saroeun said.

Pen Bonnar expressed his gratitude Tuesday for the efforts to return him to the province.

"This is a success for ethnic minority communities to show such bravery in standing up to local authorities to seek a non-violent solution," he said.

He added that whether or not he would be allowed to return, he was resolved to continue supporting the villagers.

"I want to complete my mission to train villagers to understand their legal rights," he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman